Cooper Cronk’s truth bomb for Kangaroos after embarrassing scenes in New Zealand loss

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NRL great Cooper Cronk has taken aim at the attitude of the Kangaroos after their stunning 30-0 defeat by an inspired New Zealand team. The Kangaroos may have run away 36-18 winners in Australia the week before, but Michael Maguire’s men were ruthless in the Pacific Championship final as they handed the visitors their biggest ever defeat.

Australia hardly threatened New Zealand with Mal Meninga’s selection of a number of veterans, including the captain James Tedesco, who came under fire after the embarrassing loss. Meninga claimed the team would return stronger next year, but the consequences remain.

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New Zealand ran 700 meters more than the Kangaroos during the demolition, while recording nine line breaks to one. And Penrith great Greg Alexander didn’t hold back when he claimed Australia were ’embarrassed’ in the final international match of the year for the two teams.

“The Kiwis had to get off to a good start, they had to be strong and aggressive and they had to keep it going because this is a fantastic team in Australia,” Alexander told Fox Sports. “But the Kiwis embarrassed them (Kangaroos) this afternoon. It is an embarrassing result for Australian rugby league.”

Cronk agreed, claiming Australia had no answers that day. “You got a contribution from everyone for New Zealand and they absolutely put the handcuffs on Australia at various stages,” Cronk added. “Great achievement.”

New Zealand’s response came after Australia comfortably defeated them 36-18 at AAMI Park a week earlier. Before the final, Meninga made a number of changes to the team.

And Kangaroos great Cronk was critical of Australia’s attitude, calling out the complacency of the team performing well below their best. “Maybe after last week’s performance there’s a little bit of complacency,” Cronk added.

“They have played 26 games under Mal and that is only his third defeat as Australian coach. He’s had a lot of success that the playing group is probably used to. It was a dominant NZ performance, but perhaps there was a bit of complacency after last week.

Cooper Cronk was critical of James Tedesco and his teammates.Cooper Cronk was critical of James Tedesco and his teammates.

Cooper Cronk was critical of the Kangaroos after they were demolished by New Zealand in the Pacific Championship final. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images) (Phil Walter via Getty Images)

James Tedesco and veterans under fire after loss

Tedesco has come under fire for his role in the team after a poor season, which also saw him criticized for his Blues performances in State of Origin. The 30-year-old’s form has dipped in 2023, with a number of full-backs clearly ready to take over the number 1 position. Reece Walsh remains the favorite candidate to take over for Tedesco after a stellar 2023 season for the Maroons.

The Kangaroos’ loss was the largest losing margin in Australian Test history, surpassing losses of 24 points (also to the Kiwis) in 1952 and 2005. Meninga said the result “hurt” and would be well received by the international rugby league world.

“Everyone likes to see us lose and we did that,” Meninga said. “We made everyone happy. Obviously the result will shock the rugby league world with the way we lost and the score, but we will come back at the end of next year with redemption. We have made a huge number of mistakes. That is a reflection of how New Zealand played. They were the better side and deserved their win.”

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